Whether you’re a health enthusiast or not, as you browse through one of your many social media accounts lately, you may have stumbled upon the endless conversations about this so-called miracle protein known as collagen. Before the advent of social media, one would most likely hear about collagen in the context of healthy bones and, to a smaller extent, skin, mostly during your annual visits to the dermatologist, since collagen is an essential structural component of the skin.
However, lately, everyone from fitness enthusiasts to nutritionists have their favorite protein supplement they can’t seem to get enough of. Collagen has gained newfound attention amongst fitness professionals because of its structural and functional superiority in comparison to some of its counterparts such as whey and plant protein supplements, among many others.
If you happen to be one of many browsing the internet to gain an understanding of this essential amino acid-rich compound and its countless health benefits, look no more. Through this article, we want to provide you with a holistic view of collagen protein and help you decipher if the buzz surrounding collagen is worth the hype.
####<p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Collagen- A Complete Protein</p>
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So, is collagen the real deal or yet another fad?
Well, before we go into collagen, let me explain a little about the structural and functional properties of proteins and how that may be why collagen’s popularity is on the rise among health and wellness enthusiasts. Most of us understand the importance of proteins in our daily dietary routine, however, not many know that proteins vary significantly in their chemical, structural, and functional properties, so one size does not fit all while all proteins are made up of chains of smaller molecules called amino acids (these are building blocks of proteins), the specific amino acid sequences differ between proteins. Upon digestion, what you are actually absorbing are the millions of tiny amino acids which together construct proteins (1).
The human body utilizes these tiny amino acids to then reconstruct new protein molecules to be assigned various functions from muscle gains to improving the quality of the structure of the skin, hair and nails. Some proteins are deemed as “essential”. The reason being that certain foods lack specific amino acids and when consumed, they cannot perform desired functions in the body, therefore, when nutritionists refer to “essential” proteins, it roughly translates to those proteins that comprise of all the required amino acids to perform the various functions within the body (2).
This is where collagen comes in handy–– collagen is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the essential amino acids one would need for all functions performed by proteins within the body ranging from building muscle mass, bones, cartilage, skin, hair, connective tissue and much more. <div class="text-center my-5">
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####<p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Why Do You Need Collagen?</p>
Collagen is the most common and abundant type of protein in the animal kingdom, and in humans, it accounts for nearly 35% of all the protein found in the body. Collagen essentially is a structural molecule and therefore, is primarily found throughout the body in rigid structures like bones, soft structures cartilage, or in elastic tissues like tendons and ligaments (3,4). So, a deficiency in dietary sources of collagen could lead to problems within the body, ranging from structural issues like brittle nails and weak hair strands and increased wrinkles on the skin, and gravitating to more serious issues such as deteriorating joints and bone disorders.
Collagen is like the glue that keeps the structural components of the body intact, making it one of the most essential proteins to include in your daily routine. If the physiological importance of collagen hasn’t convinced you enough to consider adding this protein to your dietary routine, it may be worthy to note that our body’s natural collagen production declines with age –– hello wrinkles and aging skin!
Recent studies have also shown that lifestyle factors such as consuming a diet high in sugar, smoking and high amounts of sun exposure contribute to depleting collagen levels. It’s been found that collagen related diseases most commonly arise from a combination poor intake of collagen-rich foods, nutritional deficiencies, and digestive disorders affecting the production of collagen within the body (3).
####<p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Collagen and Keto </p>
If you aren’t already taking advantage of collagen’s weight loss, muscle and metabolism-boosting properties, and appetite curbing benefits, you need to up your fitness game. That being said, when on a ketogenic diet, there is a right and the wrong way when indulging in collagen to boost your fitness goals.
To give you a very quick sense of what the keto diet entails, it is an adaption of a low carb diet, predominantly comprised of proteins, a variety of healthy fats, and some vegetables. Most often, those who ardently follow a keto diet are doing so in the hopes of fighting the battle of the bulge, acquiring a lean and toned physique, and warding of incessant fatigue, bloating, and a slow metabolism.
This is where collagen meets a keto enthusiast, because of the keto diet’s supportive properties inherently found in collagen protein. Imagine if there was a protein that would allow you to feel full longer, provide you with the strength to endure a workout session effortlessly, result in quick and effective post-workout recovery while, building muscle mass and enhancing the appearance of your skin (3,5).
####<p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">The Nutritional 411 On Collagen</p>
There are more than a dozen different types of collagen supplements available these days, each composed of a variety of peptides or amino acids. Figuring out which may help your health depending on your individual needs can prove to be a tricky subject.
<h5>So where can you find collagen?</h5>
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</div>For starters, collagen is abundantly found in animal tissues and there are sixteen different types of collagen within the human body. These include collagen types 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 (3). However, the vast majority of the collagen, consists, of types 1, 2, and 3. In fact, Type 1 collagen specifically accounts for almost 90 percent of the body’s supply of collagen, according to findings reported in the Journal of Supramolecular Structure.
<h5>Lets look at each of these a little more in depth......</h5>
**Type 1** is considered to be one of the strongest forms of collagen and assists in bone health and can be found within the GI tract. It’s very important for wound healing and giving skin its stretchy and elastic quality, essentially holding the skin structures intact.
**Type 2** primarily aids in joint health and prevents bone disorders such as arthritis.
**Type 3** is primarily responsible for the health of blood vessels and tissues within the heart. Deficiency of type 3 collagen has been linked to a higher risk for ruptured blood vessels and premature death in some rare instances.
**Type 4** supports the various tissues and structures within the body by allowing a gel like cushion or padding that keeps the organs and tissues protected. Type 4 collagen is often found around the gastrointestinal tract and the respiratory tract.
**Type 5** collagen is generally seen around the reproductive system, especially within the placenta in women. Occasionally, small amounts of type 5 can be isolated in hair strands as well.
**Type 10** collagen is primarily seen in bones and can be very important in the process of bone healing in the event there is a fracture or injury to the bone. (4)
####<p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Powders, Supplements, Food Sources</p>
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Understanding the science behind collagen is half the battle ––the primary conflict comes from being able to decipher the best sources of collagen, be it dietary, supplements. More importantly, within the sea of supplements, it’s figuring out the most effective, safe, and economical of all.
Like I said above, collagen is found abundantly in animal sources, and the gold standard for dietary form of collagen would be bovine or beef collagen. Beef collagen –– commonly referred to as bovine bone broth these days –– has fitness and health enthusiasts raving about its many health benefits. It supports the digestive tract, heals a leaky gut, builds muscle, and aids in weight loss. Following bovine collagen, chicken, egg, and fish collagen perform similar functions such as improving elasticity of the skin, aiding in bone health, and reducing post-workout aches, pain, and soreness.
Besides the animal sources of collagen, hydrolyzed collagen peptides have been gaining a lot of attention within the health arena. Not only does hydrolyzed collagen dissolved in both hot or cold water effortlessly, but it appears to be much easier to digest. It also has a higher bioavailability and can be absorbed into the bloodstream more readily than regular collagen protein, providing a much more effective outcome nutritionally (3,6).
Moving from dietary sources, protein powders have taken precedence within the fitness arena. To some, the mention of the word protein powders brings back the memory of something that was ingested by body builders in replacement of their meals and most common concensus was that protein powders were chalky concoctions for those aiming to grow muscles. Since then, protein powders have evolved and now, there seems to be a protein powder for almost anyone. These new age supplements tend to cater to the yoga teacher looking to appear lean and toned while, at the same time, provide the proteins, fats, and calories to the weight lifting novice looking to grow his/her biceps. The question to ask is what protein powders would serve the purpose of providing the best collagen?
If you Google the “best protein powders,” within a flash of second, you will notice tens of hundreds of pages seeming to echo a similar message –– most everyone despises protein powders that tend to cause gastrointestinal discomfort, skin disorders such as acne, and they fail to perform the coveted muscle growth as claimed by the fancy labels. It is no surprise that protein supplements derived from dairy products (whey), so-called plant proteins, and soy-based products repeatedly fail to deliver the results. Even worse, they come with undesired outcomes such as GI disorders, low digestibility, low bioavailability, and skin disorders. <div class="text-center my-5">
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Many protein powders on the market are loaded with scary chemicals and artificial sweeteners, thus making them as harmful as any other processed food out there (7).
In the sea of protein powders, if you wish to find a fast-acting, health-friendly protein supplement, look no further than hydrolyzed collagen. It is a combination of all essential amino acids, skin beautifying peptides, and bone strengthening qualities and can speed up the metabolism, aid in weight loss, and reduce aches and pains. Bonus, it does not hurt the digestive tract the way whey, plant, or soy-based protein supplements are notoriously known for. Many of these so-called “healthy” protein supplements can lead to bloating, flatulence, indigestion, and add to the leaky gut phenomenon. However, collagen protein inherently heals the gut while allowing the muscles to grow effectively.
Getting the health benefits of collagen is easier now than ever before with more evolved health and nutrition. Whether you choose to consume good old bone broth or wish to amp it up with collagen supplements, either way, practicing caution with dosage, ensuring the ingredients used in the final product are sourced and prepared using safety protocols and supported by your health professional, collagen protein can make for a powerful addition to your nutrition arsenal and fitness regimen.
#####<p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Sources Cited</p>